The Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest, which has scorched 91,017 acres and destroyed several homes in the Antelope Valley, remained at 15% containment Saturday as additional evacuation orders and warnings were issued.
“Today, crews will focus on securing the fire’s perimeter in the north in an effort to stop any additional spread, especially to the communities in the northeast and northwest,” the U.S. Forest Service said. “Expect fire growth towards Wrightwood on north and west around Chilao.”
Structures have been damaged and losses were expected, according to Vince Pena, unified incident commander with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The number of homes affected was not available.
Broadcast reports from the scene showed structures that appeared to be homes burning in the Juniper Hills area, but the U.S. Forest Service could not confirm that.
Homes in Juniper Hills, Paradise Springs, Devil’s Punchbowl and other communities in the northern part of the Angeles National Forest and southern part of the Antelope Valley were under evacuation orders.
Evacuation orders were in effect for residents:
— North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Hwy 39
— East of Devils Punch Bowl Road, South of the Big Pines Hwy, North of the Big Rock Creek, and West of Jackson Lake
— South of Pearblossom Hwy (SR138), North of Big Pines, East of 165th and West of Largo Vista Road
— North of Fort Tejon Road, South of Avenue V, East of 87th E., West of 121 St E.
— South of Avenue 12, North of Aqueduct, West of 165 St E and East of 121 St E.
— South of Fort Tejon Road, North of Cooley Place, East of 89th St. E. and West of Longview Road
— North of Pallett Creek, South of W. 114th St., East of Longview Road and West of 165th St.
— 96th east to 116th St. E/Fort Tejon Road south to SR 2
— 116th E to Devils Punchbowl Road/Fort Tejon Road to SR 2
— Devils Punchbowl Road to and including Fenner Camp
— Fenner Camp to intersection of SR 2 and Big Pines
— Chilao, the CalTrans Yard, the 3 Points area and the Angeles Crest Christian Camp and the Crystal Lake area.
An “evacuation box” was essentially in effect for an area east of Largo Vista Road, north of Big Pines Highway/CA-2, south of Highway 138, and west of 263rd Street E, the county line.
“On the southern perimeter personnel also continue to mop up to the extent necessary to ensure there is no further impact to structures. On the west crews will continue to protect Mt. Wilson and Chilao. Along the Highway 39 corridor crews will be securing and mopping up where the strategic firing occurred yesterday,” the Forest Service said.
A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School, while an earlier evacuation point at Santa Anita Park for those in the San Gabriel Valley is now closed. Anyone still needing assistance was urged to call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.
Evacuation warnings for the communities of Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury and Duarte would be lifted at 4 p.m. Saturday, officials said.
Warnings for Altadena and Pasadena remained in effect. Officials urged residents to be alert for any additional evacuation orders or warnings that might take place Saturday due to forecasted gusty winds up to 25 mph. Lower temperatures were expected to aid the firefighting effort, however.
Evacuation warnings were also issued Thursday evening for the unincorporated area of Wrightwood, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reported.
“No additional strategic aerial firing will be occurring today near the San Gabriel Reservoir,” the ANF tweeted Saturday. “Large pockets of unburned islands of fuel remain within the perimeter that will be actively burning and producing smoke throughout the day.”
A total of 1,663 personnel are currently assigned to the fire.
The fire exploded in size Friday, growing by more than 17,000 acres and making a “hard push to the west and north” as wind gusts reached 44 mph, the Forest Service said.
“Mt. Wilson is still safe and we will continue to focus on the north end of the fire,” officials said after daybreak Friday. Fire retardant was placed around Mount Wilson.
Crews have been working for days to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers valued at more than $1 billion from approaching flames.
Observatory personnel were evacuated. Mount Wilson is not only one of the crown jewels of astronomy but also home to infrastructure that transmits cellphone signals and television and radio broadcasts for the greater Los Angeles Area.
Full containment of the fire, which will be achieved by way of cleared vegetation, is not estimated until Oct. 30.
A closure order has been issued for all National Forests in Southern California.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Saturday afternoon with most of its jurisdiction experiencing smoke impacts.
The Los Angeles Zoo, which closed last Sunday due to poor air quality, planned to reopen Saturday.
“Based on past fire events in the area, we do not anticipate air quality issues to affect our animals,” according to a Twitter post from the zoo. “However, our animal care and veterinary health staff are closely monitoring the animals in outdoor habitats and are preparing to respond as necessary.”
The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause remains under investigation.
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